KSJHF News, May 2020

Coping with COVID-19 Amidst Our Poverty

Amputee Center

In 2119 we fitted 61 amputees with an artificial limb, by far our best year yet. Prior to that our best year was in 2013, the second year after the center opened, when we fitted 53 amputees with artificial limbs.

In 2015 we lost our major funding when a prominent Tanzanian charity shut down and we could not meet the needs of our large amputee population. Two years go we received a very generous donation from one of our donors which allowed us to meet the needs of the people.

In 2019 we also received a grant of $3,000 from a charity based in England to build prosthetic limbs for children.

Also a new Tanzanian charity based in nearby Bukoba, The Awaited One Hand Organization, has also been sending us amputees. This organization supports the amputees by paying for lodging and transportation while we fund the artificial limb. To the right is a picture of a child that we fitted with a prosthesis recently.

In the past year we also purchased $12,818 of materials from Swiss Limbs to build 80 stronger artificial limbs for our amputees. These new limbs will have a Soft Ankle Cushion Heel which will also make walking much easier.

Because of our increased production we have outgrown our current facility. We are currently seeking funding of $10,500 to enlarge our building.

New Laundry Machines

Currently our sheets and gowns are being washed by hand and air dried in the sun. Our commercial washer and dryer are 40 years old and beyond repair. Fortunately, we have been promised funding from an anonymous donor to purchase new equipment which will cost $25,000. The hospital and diocese will contribute $2,500 and $1,700 respectively with the remaining $20,800 coming from the generous donor.

Thyroid Deficiency Disorders

St Joseph Hospital is on the edge of the Muleba Dstrict where large goiters continue to be a serious health hazard to those who live there. The soil is geologically very old and has very little iodine content to enter the food chain, contributing to an increasing number of large goiters. Lack of iodine causes these goiters.

In a recent study done by St. Joseph Hospital 60 goiter patients in the Muleba District were interviewed as to the cause of their goiter. All but one patient believed that the goiter was caused by witchcraft. Iodized salt is available, but the people are so poor that they will not buy the iodized salt even though it costs very little more.

Our financial officer, Jim O’Brien, is submitting a Rotary grant to educate the people to use the iodized salt. If the grant is received, the education program will serve as a model to be applied in other areas of developing nations where thyroid deficiency is a problem. Our goal will be to convince the people that it is necessary to purchase iodized salt.

How COVID-19 has Impacted Us

The major effect on us has been on funding. The economic downturn has no doubt been severe for some of our donors who are now facing budget shortfalls of their own. Yet the needs of our hospital and the population that surrounds it are ongoing. This is where small donations will help us a lot. If you have contributed before, please send what is within you budget. Many small donations will add up and help us go on with our work at St. Joseph Hospital.

Schools in Tanzania have bet shuttered and this has affected Ines, the child with the burned hand who had undergone four skin grafting procedures. We were paying for private schooling after the surgery was completed in order to help Ines to catch up to her peers. Her first year was not as successful as we would have liked, so we funded her for another year. She has improved her performance but with schools suspended we will not know how well she did. We will likely allow her to continue for another year.

Social distancing will prove difficult in Tanzania. The disease will likely run its course through the community. “Herd immunity” will eventually be accomplished.

Amazon Smile

Our donations from Amazon are increasing but some specific instructions may help some of you to participate. Here is what to do.

  • Search for “Amazon Smile.”
  • Save the address in your favorites.
  • Choose ksjhf as your charity.

After completing these steps, when you log in to “Amazon Smile,” your purchases will automatically be credited to our account. It doesn’t cost you anything and we receive 0.5% of the value of your purchases.

Your donations should be made out to “Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital Foundation” and mailed to me, Wend Schaefer, M. D. at the address below.

Be safe! The pandemic will pass.

Wend Schaefer, M.D., President, Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital Foundation